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UI project goal: increase physical activity for older Americans

Melissa Mitchell, Arts Editor
(217) 333-5491;


EDITOR’S NOTE: Wojtek Chodzko-Zajko [VOY-tek HODGE-koh-ZYE-koh], an expert on the benefits of exercise in older adults, is available for interviews.

CHAMPAIGN, Ill. – The University of Illinois, in conjunction with the American College of Sports Medicine, has received a grant of $568,767 from The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation for a project aimed at making older Americans more active and healthy.

Recognizing that scientific and clinical evidence has increasingly demonstrated that regular physical activity is essential to health and can help manage or prevent many diseases, the foundation awarded the grant to support the development and implementation of a plan to increase physical activity among adults over age 50. The plan, formally known as "The National Blueprint: Increasing Physical Activity Among Adults Age 50 and Older," was created by a national panel supported by the foundation. The panel included experts from AARP, the American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM), the American Geriatrics Society, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the National Institute on Aging and the Johnson foundation.

ACSM played a leading role in assembling these and other organizations into a health coalition known as the Active Aging Partnership. Chief grant administrators from the two institutions will be Wojtek Chodzko-Zajko, head of the UI department of kinesiology, and Jane G. Senior, ACSM research administration director.

"Regular physical activity can bring dramatic health benefits to people of all ages, but it is one of the greatest opportunities available for the aging person to extend years of active, independent life," said Chodzko-Zajko. "The blueprint was written with this in mind. Now we will be able to provide an infrastructure and continue working together identifying and addressing barriers to physical activity."

The first steps to be funded by the grant include scanning national groups to ascertain the need for technical assistance, organizing national conferences of health-care providers and geriatric-care specialists, developing Internet sites that will disseminate information, and distributing information about blueprint-related activities.

"We are very excited about the opportunity this grant presents," Chodzko-Zajko said. "It is the beginning of a process that could eventually benefit the entire population throughout the life span."

The UI department of kinesiology is an interdisciplinary unit dedicated to the critical study of human movement. The advancement and dissemination of movement-related knowledge is central to the department’s mission. Faculty members in kinesiology utilize a broad variety of approaches in the integrative study of human movement, including research themes such as life-span physical activity, disability and reconditioning, physical culture and education, human factors, and human performance.

Based in Indianapolis, the American College of Sports Medicine is the largest sports medicine and exercise science organization in the world. More than 18,000 members throughout the United States and the world are dedicated to promoting and integrating scientific research, education and practical applications of sports medicine and exercise science to maintain and enhance physical performance, fitness, health and quality of life.